If you spent any time on social media on Sunday, in between seeing the thwarted cyclists in Cape Town, you may have noticed a troubling hashtag #Durbantsunami. It may not have been a tsunami, but unusually large waves did hit the beachfront, forcing bystanders to run for safety and causing costly damage to local businesses.
Stacy Colborne of the South African Weather Service said strong southwesterly winds – and not Cyclone Enawo, which was too far away to have had an effect – were the likely cause of the high swell.
The beachfront was closed to visitors, but the waves did cause damage to some local businesses. One restaurant, Mochachos, saw a lot more damage than others. Director Yaseen Amod told East Coast Radio that the shop front had been destroyed and all the equipment was submerged in water. “Our estimated costs are worth R2.5 million at the moment. There’s nothing that can be used,” he said.
The restaurant, which is raised above the level of the promenade by three steps, has experienced high water before, but it has never before made it past the stairs. This time, however, the waves came washing through the store at waist height, said Yaseen.
Other businesses reported minimal damage. Staff at Fishaways said the water entered the restaurant but did not do any damage. My Diners, Wimpy, Afro’s Chicken and Circus Circus Beach Café told Eat Out that they were also not affected. Thankfully, no injuries have been reported.